🌼The Simple Secret of the Life Everyone Wants
## You can’t have it all, but you can have this
I always ask my clients what they want from life.
The answers are surprisingly low key. I mean, I give them licence to ask for ANYTHING they want.
But no-one pushes the boat out. No-one goes rogue. No-one says: amazing sex, an overflowing bank account, a yacht moored off a Mediterranean beach, a house featured on Grand Designs. (Even if they want those things, they’re not sharing.)
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Some people take time to think. Then the answers come quietly: a loving partner, a family, a good job/career, a comfortable home, enough money to live without stress.
Admittedly this is therapy, so when we dig deeper we find it’s not about “stuff” or even people. It’s about feelings — or rather, the feelings they don’t want: stress, angst, overwhelm, despair…constant nagging worry.
And the feelings they do: calm, fun, freedom — and, dare to dream, those ever-elusive snatches of happiness.
# Nope, you can’t have it all. Me either.
The leaders of the early self-help movement sold us a lie.
They led us to believe that everything we ever dreamed of was within our reach — if we just clarified our purpose fixated on a goal, stayed relentlessly positive and pounded resolutely towards it.
But time and life shows us (often in brutal ways) otherwise. That life does not lay down a straightforward path– for some, it’s gut-wrenchingly hard. That happiness is not just a “choice”, that some people’s circumstances prohibit them from doing what they’d love, or even like, to do.
It’s good to strive to create the best possible life for yourself — but it’s also important to keep it real.
It’s important to find the sweet spot between trying to better yourself and being grateful with what you have.
It’s called being content.
> True contentment is not having everything, but in being satisfied with everything you have. — Oscar Wilde
> Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. — Epicurus
# What we all want — even if we don’t know it
Beyond the basic needs of safety, health and survival– food, water, air and shelter — humans are pretty simple creatures. Okay we also need clothes, transport and more money coming in that goes out.
But we’re not content with simplicity. We want more. We believe having more will lead us to a better life. We think that holidaying abroad will be a cooler family experience than driving to the nearest lake, or owning a Tesla will make us happier than a Toyota. (Maybe. I don’t own a Tesla.)
It’s true that having the nicer things in life — especially when you’ve worked hard for them — can be a source of satisfaction. But, ultimately, I’ve never known “things” to make people more content with their lives. Mostly because they just transfer their wanting to the next object of desire.
Based on the data in my own client files, I’ve come to see that a life of contentment depends on just five things.
When you have them in place, they provide a foundation for everything else.
## You know your place in the world.
You know your birth story and your back story and your history — even the hard or traumatic bits. I’ve worked with a number of people who have been adopted and they always fare better when they **_know and understand_** their own story — even if they’ve chosen to detach from it. Not knowing where (and who) you’ve come from can make you feel untethered, like you’re at the mercy of circumstances, or whatever life flings forth. Knowing your place in the world is an anchor. Of the best kind.
## You have a solid reason for getting up.
This doesn’t mean you rip back the covers when the alarm goes off, and bound from bed filled with vim and vigour for the new day. Maybe you do, and that’s great. But most of us make a slower, creakier start. It means that you feel fully invested in your work or your purpose or your mission. Your life has meaning; you have a sound reason to keep trying — so you do.
## When you’re alone, you don’t feel lonely.
You have people in your corner. It doesn’t matter what your whanau (family) or group or community or God looks like, but they are there for you and you for them. So when you are alone, you can relax and enjoy it, knowing you have warm, solid connections, that no matter what, you are never fully alone.
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## You feel good about the person you are — and becoming.
Although you can derail (slightly) at times you are generally good with who you are, how you function in the world and who you are (trying) to become in the future. You like yourself, even when life is hard. Your behaviour is rooted in sound values and you try not to stray from them.
## You are positively biased towards your life.
You have your moments but — overall — you like the life you have and the direction it’s moving in. You feel hopeful, in a way that does not ignore discomfort or pain. As politician Cory Booker says so eloquently: “_Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.”_
Contributed by Karen Nimmo
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